Volume 18, No.1 - Spring 1972
Editors of this issue: Antanas Klimas, Ignas K. Skrupskelis
Copyright © 1972 LITUANUS Foundation, Inc.


The Pennsylvania State University

I came across the name Jonas Kazlauskas for the first time in 1961 when I was asked by Professor Thomas Sebeok of Indiana University to prepare an article on Lithuanian linguistics for the first volume of Current Trends in Linguistics. For this task I was fortunate enough to be able to enlist the aid of my former professor, Dr. Antanas Salys and my former fellow graduate student, Dr. Kostas Ostrauskas. Dr. Ostrauskas kindly lent me his copy of volume I of Kalbotyra (1958). Perhaps this was one of the two or three copies of Kalbotyra on the North American continent at that time. On carefully perusing this valuable publication, I ran across two articles by Jonas Kazlauskas, the first of which was entitled "The passage of the i-stem nouns to the io-declension" (pp. 33-50) and the second of which was called "Concerning the origin of the instrumental and locative singular forms of the Lithuanian i-stem nouns.' (pp. 51-68). In the first article Kazlauskas gives an imaginative solution to the problems of the io-stem endings in old i-stem nouns. In Kazlauskas' opinion it is the result of the phonetic merger of certain of the case endings in a subvariety of the io-stems (viz. the iio-stem). In the second article Kazlauskas shows that i-stem instrumentals such as nakčia (instead of naktimi) could well be old forms, cf. Old Church Slavic noštoją. As a parallel to such development he quotes the Lithuanian dialect instrumental rankai which he compares directly with Old Church Slavic rąkoją. He also suggests that the i-stem locative develops from an older -ije which passed to -ij and eventually to -y and only then was the ending -je added to give the ending -yje.

Just one year later (1959), his article, "The loss of the (i)u declension" appeared in volume II of Lietuvių kalbotyros klausimai (pp. 17-45). In this article Kazlauskas traces the loss of the old long u-stem nouns and the gradual transfer of the (i)u-stem nouns into the (i)o-stem category. In the third volume of Kalbotyra (1961) his articles, "Concerning the history of the consonant-stem declension" (pp. 61-71) and "The loss of root substantives" (pp. 73-78), appeared. These articles also concern the passage of nouns from the less common consonantal stems to the various vocalic stems.

His interest in the adjectival paradigm is evidenced by his article "Concerning the form gero (feminine nominative singular)" in volume IV of Kalbotyra. In this article he shows that this form and other similar forms have their origin in the pronominal paradigm and are not abbreviated forms of the definite declension.

In 1963 he published a short note "Archaic consonant-stem case forms" in volume VI of Kalbotyra. In this note Kazlauskas maintains that the old instrumental singular vandemi found in Bretkūnas' Bible translation and the south-eastern Samogitian adverbialized instrumental singular vóndmäi, etc. all reflect the original consonant stem declension of this noun.

Another important early article concerning the nominal morphology is the study, "Concerning the development of the Lithuanian substantive accentual system," published in volume VII of Kalbotyra (1963) pp. 171-180. Here Kazlauskas brings new arguments to affirm Endzelīns' opinion that from the point of view of the Baltic languages we can not prove an old distinction between oxytone and barytone paradigms. Kazlauskas argues in favor of the primordiality of the Lithuanian situation in which we find essentially barytone paradigms and mobile paradigms.

But, his early work on the Baltic noun should not keep us from noting several early articles on the Baltic verb.

As early as 1961, in volume IV of Lietuvių kalbotyros klausimai, he published a detailed account explaining the variety of the subjunctive forms in Lithuanian. He also shows clearly that Pisani is wrong in not considering the supine to be the base of these Lithuanian forms.

In 1962 we find his interesting article, "Remnants of the third person aorist and imperfect form in the Baltic languages" in issue 6 of Voprosy jazykoznanija. He begins this article with the sentence: "In part of the Eastern Aukshtaitish dialect of the Lithuanian language the following forms of the third person preterit are widely used: ažùkas 'dug', ìšveš 'transported away', ìšneš 'carried away' etc." He also notes other dialect forms such as dė (dėjo) 'put', sėdė (sėdėjo) 'sat', etc. and argues that all of these are archaisms reflecting the original Indo-European situation and that the forms with the preterit in are all innovations. Probably everyone likes to see his own prejudices confirmed and I am no exception. I liked this article particularly because I had always felt also that if indeed the forms and sėdė didn't really exist in the contemporary language, they really should have existed at one time. My own preconceptions of how Lithuanian should have developed required this assumption.

In the University of Minnesota library, one cold winter day in 1963, while writing a review of Wolfgang P. Schmid's Studien zum baltischen und indogermanischen Verbum, I came across the article "The development of the Common Baltic vocalic system" published in number 4 of the issue of Voprosy jazykoznanija for 1962. To the best of my knowledge this is one of the first structuralist attempts to attack the problem of the Old Prussian as well as the Common Baltic vocalic systems.

Thus, in the first half of the sixties we see Kazlauskas' three major interests, namely (1) nominal paradigms, (2) the verbal system and (3) phonology.

The year 1965 is an important turning point in the career of Professor Kazlauskas. He had been, of course, known before as one of the outstanding younger and progressive linguists of the University of Vilnius. But in that year he became the chief editor (atsakingas redaktorius) of the journal, Baltistica, which he helped to found. In the foreword of Volume I, number 1 of this journal we read:

The steady advance of research in Baltic languages in the Soviet Union and the marked attention recently given to them abroad call for a special periodical devoted to studies of urgent problems in Baltic linguistics. The necessity for such a periodical was stressed last autumn at the Baltistic conference held in Vilnius V. Kapsukas State University. Besides students of Baltic philology working in Lithuanian research institutions and schools of higher learning, specialists in this field from Moscow, Riga and Kiev took part in its work. The conference authorized its organization committee to prepare and issue such a periodical. The conversion of a part of the journal "Kalbotyra" (Linguistics), issued by the Committee for Higher and Special Secondary Education of the Lithuanian SSR into a more specialized journal made it possible to issue the first part of "Baltistica".

In the spring of 1966 I was greatly honored to receive from Professor Kazlauskas a letter dated April 27, 1966. In this letter Professor Kazlauskas wrote: "I have the pleasure of sending you a copy of the first volume of "Baltistica", a new journal for Baltic linguistics. I hope it will be of interest to you.

"The editorial board would greatly appreciate your cooperation in the journal."

I was naturally delighted with the opportunity to write for this journal. It was largely thanks to Kazlauskas' energy and foresight that there appeared a journal devoted to the Baltic field and published in a Baltic republic where there is today a lively young group of linguists who can contribute. The journal quickly captured the attention of foreign linguists and there soon appeared articles by Eric Hamp (University of Chicago), R. Eckert (Leipzig), Jan Otrębski (Poznán), Valentin Kiparsky (Helsinki), Vittore Pisani (Milan), I. Duridanov (Sofia), André Vaillant (Paris), Jiři Marvan (Prague), not to speak of such well known Russians as V. N. Toporov and O. N. Trubačev.

The quality of articles in this journal can be compared with that of the leading European and American journals in linguistics such a Voprosy jazykoznanija, Lingua, Word, or such specialized journals as the International Journal of American Linguistics (American Indian languages) and the Journal of English and Germanic Philology. Let us say simply that Baltistica, under the editorship of Jonas' Kazlauskas, was a first-rate international journal. Between 1965 and 1970 six complete volumes (with two issues in each volume) were published. According to my calculation these contain almost 1500 pages of material pertaining to Baltic linguistics.

Since 1965 Kazlauskas' own articles and reviews began to appear also on the pages of Baltistica. On checking each issue, I have determined that Kazlauskas himself is not represented only in Volume V, No. 2 and Vol. VI, No. 2. In the other issues his articles continue to reflect his earlier interests in the Baltic noun, verb, and phonology. For example, in volume I, no. 1 of Baltistica we find Kazlauskas' article, "Derivatives of Baltic prefixed verbs and their significance for the reconstruction of the verbal accent" and in volume I, no. 2 we find the article "The position of the Lithuanian reflexive morpheme and its stress." In both of these articles Kazlauskas reconstructs earlier etymological positions for the stress in various Lithuanian verb forms. In volume II, No. 1 Kazlauskas explains the Lithuanian imperative in -k as deriving eventually from the particle -gi.

He takes up the problem of the phonologization of the various kinds of Lithuanian stress in two articles published in Vol. II. no. 2 and vol. III, no. 1 of Baltistica. Although during this period one could probably consider Baltistica the major outlet for his ideas we must not omit an important article published in vol. XIV (1966) of Kalbotyra. This issue of Kalbotyra was dedicated to J. Balčikonis. The article in question is entitled "The distinctive feature system of standard Lithuanian." It is essentially the first attempt to analyze the phonemes of Lithuanian according to the distinctive feature system proposed by Jakobson, Fant and Halle in Preliminaries to speech analysis (Cambridge, 1955) and Fundamentals of Language (s'Gravenhage, 1958). To the best of my knowledge this has not been done by anybody else either before or since.

The year 1968, however, saw the appearance of the major work of his short scholarly career, viz. the publication of Lietuvių kalbos istorinė gramatika, the first historical grammar of Lithuanian ever written by a native Lithuanian. I take it as axiomatic that a foreigner can never know a language as well as a native. The importance of this book lies then in the fact that it combines (1) native knowledge of Lithuanian, (2) background knowledge of a well-trained scholar and (3) insights of a brilliant and original mind.

But let us quote the foreword itself (p. 3):

The task of this publication is to clarify within Baltic linguistics some new possibilities which have developed in recent years as a result of the change of view concerning the history of the Indo-European languages and the methods of investigating them. When one goes back into the past to that stage of investigation when the model of the prehistoric period of the Indo-European languages was the identification with the model of Greek and Sanskrit, it becomes rather clear that not one Indo-European language which has been retained within the historical period can directly reflect the Common Indo-European linguistic facts. Therefore internal reconstruction of the prehistoric aspect of the Indo-European languages is now gaining unusually great significance.

While the great contribution of the Neogrammarians to the investigation of the history of the Baltic languages is emphasized, one cannot, however, help noticing that they cherished comparison with other Indo-European languages more than internal analysis. As a result not infrequently there were ascribed to the Common Indo-European period forms which had come into being on Baltic soil and the investigation of separate languages was replaced by comparison with other Indo-European languages. As a result in effect the significance of the conservative Baltic languages was reduced.

Continuing his earlier interests the three major divisions of the book are entitled (1) Kirčiavimo istorija, (2) Daiktavardžio linksniavimo istorija and (3) Iš veiksmažodžio istorijos. But let us give from this book an example of how his structural analysis has corrected an earlier view which assumes three degrees of vocalic length in Lithuanian dialects. As Kazlauskas (pp. 12-13) points out, Baranauskas had operated with Kurz, mittelzeitig, lang, Leskien with kurz, zweimorig, lang, dreimorig lang and Gauthiot with ultrabrève, brève, longue. Now the dialect of Svėdasai has a vocalic system which has a stressed long /ī/, a stressed half-long /i/, an unstressed half-long /i/ and an unstressed short /i/. The phonological opposition, however, is only between two degrees of length. As Kazlauskas says (p. 13):

Therefore in the dialects under investigation in the same structural enviroments there is an opposition only between long and half-long vowels: In stressed position we find long vowels the combinatory variants of which are half-long vowels in unstressed positions; likewise in stressed position there are half-long vowels whose combinatory variants in unstressed position are short.

Now a structuralist, such as myself, would have probably guessed this to be the case and would have guessed that most of the contemporary Lithuanian dialect studies, following Gauthiot, Leskien and Baranauskas, were misleading from a phonemic point of view. On the other hand it was only Kazlauskas who actually knew both the structural theory and the dialect situation and could correct the view of the neogrammarians on the basis of both fact and theory.

But, now I should like to finish my brief survey on a personal note. Somehow or other after the first letter in 1966, in which he invited me to collaborate in Baltistica, we discovered in each other persons who would not be offended by disagreement on matters of scholarship and there began a lively correspondence on linguistic matters which lasted for a total of four and one-half years. I have in my files a number of letters from Professor Kazlauskas. For example, he disputed my hypothesis that word-final *-an would pass to *-un in Proto-Baltic. In his letter of March 1st, 1968, he wrote:

I have my doubts as to whether the ending -an in the case which you give could become -un in those Lithuanian dialects in which a word-medial an has not become un.

And in another letter (dated May 10, 1970) he wrote: "First of all I should like to express my opinion about the etymology of Old Prussian kalis. I have doubts as to the Finnic origin of this word despite the great phonetic similarity of OP Kalis and Finnish kala."

On the other hand he was just as ready to admit that his own opinions might be wrong. For example in a letter dated July 2nd, 1968, he wrote:

I am not completely convinced of the existence of o in Old Prussian or Proto-Baltic and your doubts about this are quite understandable... I intend to write a special article about this in the future. In the meantime it seems to me that if we assume that an o existed at some time or other in the Lithuanian-Latvian dialect area it is easier to explain Latvian uo (<an), Eastern Lithuanian um, un (<am, an), and Samogitian om, on in place of standard Lithuanian am, an.

In addition to this correspondence I had with him, I met him personally for two brief periods: once in September of 1968 and then a second time in June of 1970, when I was honored by an invitation to attend as the American representative to the Second All-Union Conference on Baltic linguistics. Possibly differently from the European scholar, the American tends to enjoy a good argument about linguistics. (Although in all honesty I must confess that many Americans are deeply offended when someone attacks their favorite theories. Likewise, you must remember that in my whole life I have only been in Europe a total of six weeks, so I really don't have too much experience to go on.) Nevertheless, I should say that the discussions, which Kazlauskas and I had, were conducted more perhaps on the ideal model in which there can be a fairly good argument, but in which no personal feelings are involved. Thus, we disagreed about the nature of the Proto-Baltic vocalic system and one day, in order to put my thoughts in order, I wrote out in Lithuanian my disagreement with his proposal that there existed in Proto-Baltic two vocalic systems, viz. a system of accented vowels, vs. a system with unaccented vowels. I argued that there could only be one system, but that it might have two realizations depending upon whether the vowel in question was accented or not. This in turn led us to a more involved discussion of phonemic theory and during this discussion Kazlauskas said that it was really he himself who had introduced phonemics (i.e. fonologija) at the University of Vilnius. I am convinced that he is right and that indeed one of his major contributions to Lithuanian linguistics was to introduce structuralist methods to his university.

At another time, during this conference, the question came up of the existence of intonation in unstressed syllables in Lithuanian dialects. One of the Lithuanian linguists assured me that he could show by instrumental means that such did indeed exist. Later I mentioned this to Kazlauskas who told me that surely this was correct, but that this did not make any difference, because nobody could find any places where there would be any contrastive or phonemic (fonologinis) distinction of intonation in unstressed syllables.

I suspect that Kazlauskas had learned most of his structural and generative linguistics from reading Western sources. In fact, he told me once that he found it easier to read English than Russian works on linguistics. I think there may have been two factors at work here. One is that English, like Lithuanian, is written in the Latin alphabet and the second is that in general English uses shorter sentences than German and the East European languages. On the other hand, Kazlauskas once showed me a picture of himself with some other leading Soviet phonologists such as S. K. Šaumjan at a conference on phonology, which, I believe, had taken place some place in the Ukraine. And I know that he had contact with Russian scholars who are very much up to date on phonemic theory.

In conclusion, then, I should say that Kazlauskas was the leading post-World War II innovator in linguistics in Lithuania. Although he lived only to the age of forty, during his short scholarly career which really only begins in the middle fifties and hence lasted only fifteen years, he succeeded in introducing modern methods of linguistic analysis to the University of Vilnius; he established Baltistica, a journal which has become in five years the leading journal of Baltic linguistics; and he wrote more than fifty articles and a historical grammar of Lithuanian, using contemporary principles of linguistics. And, as one Latvian professor said during the conference, the center of Baltic studies is no longer Riga (as it was when Jānis Endzelīns was alive), but it has been transferred to Vilnius. Whether it will remain such without the presence of Jonas Kazlauskas, only the future will tell.